Smooth crim­i­nals

The story of bon­nie and clyde is worth telling again, says emile Hirsch.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By CHESTER CHIN en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

WHEN Emile Hirsch got a call from his man­ager about an of­fer for a po­ten­tial part in a minis­eries called Bon­nie & Clyde, he im­me­di­ately jumped at the op­por­tu­nity.

“As soon as he said, ‘ Bon­nie and Clyde’, I knew I was go­ing to do it. I just love that time pe­riod and the movie side of it. I wanted to ex­plore that era and the gang­ster mythol­ogy that sur­rounds it,” Hirsch says dur­ing a phone in­ter­view re­cently.

Part his­tory and part drama, the four-hour epic retells the tale of love­birds Clyde Bar­row and Bon­nie Parker whose no­to­ri­ous crime spree shocked and cap­ti­vated the Amer­i­can pub­lic in the early 1930s.

Ru­moured to have a sixth sense that en­abled him to see events be­fore they hap­pened, Bar­row was de­scribed as a charis­matic con­victed armed rob­ber who was al­ways able to stay one step ahead of the law. His one blind spot was Parker, a per­cep­tive small-town wait­ress in­tent on fame.

To­gether, both Bar­row and Parker went on to com­mit risky and dan­ger­ous crimes that made them a reg­u­lar fix­ture on news­pa­per head­lines dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion.

“There’s a lot of ad­ven­ture in break­ing the rules and I think that’s what makes peo­ple con­tin­u­ously fas­ci­nated by Bon­nie and Clyde and made them a phe­nom­e­non,” of­fers Hirsch, 28.

That phe­nom­e­non has even led to the cou­ple’s own legacy in mod­ern pop­u­lar cul­ture. Hol­ly­wood has tack­led the story of Bon­nie and Clyde sev­eral times.

The most pop­u­lar ver­sion would of course be the iconic 1967 film which starred War­ren Beatty and Faye Du­n­away.

How­ever, Hirsch was unperturbed by the fact that he took on a role which the Academy Award­win­ning Beatty made fa­mous on the big screen.

“I didn’t find it hard to fill those shoes be­cause I didn’t try on those shoes un­til af­ter I fin­ished film­ing.

“What I mean by that is I didn’t ac­tu­ally watch Beatty’s ver­sion of Bon­nie And Clyde un­til I was done play­ing Clyde,” he re­veals.

“I pur­posely did that be­cause I know what a good ac­tor Beatty is and I didn’t want to be in­flu­enced by him. I wanted my ver­sion of Clyde to be mine,” adds the Cal­i­for­nia na­tive.

It’s worth men­tion­ing that Parker and Bar­row were among the first celebrity crim­i­nals of the mod­ern era.

At the core of it all, the story of Bon­nie and Clyde re­mains one of the most tragic ro­mances in Amer­i­can his­tory. This begs the ques­tion – what is it about their tale that still ap­peals to peo­ple even to this day?

“I think there are very op­pos­ing forces in their re­la­tion­ship. There’s the love for each other, but at the same time, there’s also ha­tred for the law, so­ci­ety and rules. Th­ese dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties are very rarely paired up to­gether.

“It’s also sur­pris­ing to a lot of peo­ple that Bon­nie her­self is will­ing to be a par­tic­i­pant in a lot of the crimes, es­pe­cially in an era where women are con­sid­ered very tra­di­tional. And it’s a shock that she’s a bit of a gang­ster her­self,” says Hirsch.

The fe­male lead in the new starstud­ded minis­eries is played by Hol­l­i­day Grainger. Other cast mem­bers in­clude vet­eran ac­tors Holly Hunter and Wil­liam Hurt.

The fact that Bon­nie & Clyde is based on real life events does make one won­der which ver­sion of the truth the film ad­hered to.

“You never know ex­actly what hap­pened, but I feel like ob­vi­ously there’s go­ing to be a bit of po­etic li­cence. When you make a movie based on his­tor­i­cal facts, you can never in­clude ev­ery­thing. You have to in­vent cer­tain things and come up with your own in­ter­pre­ta­tion. The essence is still there. Our ver­sion is very tragic and very po­etic,” of­fers Hirsch.

He went on to re­veal that the minis­eries fo­cuses on the early years that Clyde spent in prison be­fore he em­barked on a crim­i­nal ram­page with his ro­man­tic in­ter­est.

“It was some­thing that the se­ries re­ally ex­plores and you’ll get to see how hard prison was for him, how he was abused and sex­u­ally as­saulted. It’s aw­ful and kind of a dark sub­ject, so I felt that the se­ries had a lot of courage to ex­plore that,” he says.

Af­ter delv­ing into Bar­row’s char­ac­ter, Hirsch came to the con­clu­sion that the man was fun­da­men­tally a tragic vil­lain.

“It’s tragic be­cause he wanted a way out but the hor­rors he faced in prison changed him. It sort of cre­ated a mon­ster of him. But the real tragedy is that he re­ally was in love with some­one and he let that love, in a weird way, ruin his life,” Hirsch says.

All the bleak stuff aside, the ac­tor does think there’s some­thing in­her­ently cool about the flawed out­law.

“Even though he’s a crim­i­nal, he makes his own rules and he’s not afraid of dan­ger. He’s very im­pul­sive and he’s got a beau­ti­ful girl. Clyde ba­si­cally con­trolled his own des­tiny,” rea­sons Hirsch.

When asked if he sees any part of him­self in the late con­vict, Hirsch hes­i­tated for a bit be­fore an­swer­ing, “Not too much. I don’t think I could take the in­ten­sity of the world on your back. Clyde was con­stantly on the run for his life and get­ting shot at. That’s not the way I’m wired. That’s not in me.

“But if I were given a chance to pick his brain, I’d prob­a­bly ask, ‘Are you sure you guys don’t want to turn your­selves in?’ ,” he says with a laugh.

Af­ter a long pause, though, Hirsch adds on a more se­ri­ous note, “I’d prob­a­bly ask if they would change any­thing about it if they could do it all over again be­cause ul­ti­mately, they were two peo­ple in love.”

Bon­nie & Clyde will be aired on Dec 9 and 10 at 9pm on His­tory (Astro Ch 555) and Life­time (Astro Ch 709). Ar­guably one of Hirsch’s most com­mer­cial films to date, Speed Racer sees the ac­tor tak­ing on the role of an 18-year-old whose life and love re­volves around rac­ing. The film was nom­i­nated in mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories at the Teen Choice Awards. Un­for­tu­nately, it was also nom­i­nated for a Golden Rasp­berry Award. Af­ter the crit­i­cally-panned Speed Racer, Hirsch bounced back to the big screen along­side Sean Penn. Milk chron­i­cles the life of gay rights ac­tivist and politi­cian Har­vey Milk. Hirsch plays ac­tivist Cleve Jones in the movie. — Ch­esterChin

emile Hirsch and Hol­l­i­day Grainger star as in­fa­mous amer­i­can out­laws clyde bar­row and bon­nie Parker re­spec­tively in a new four-part minis­eries.

Lethal love: The story of bon­nie and clyde re­mains one of the most tragic ro­mances in amer­i­can his­tory.

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